It was win one, lose one for Blue Jays affiliates in minor league post season play last night.
The AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats and Lansing Lunguts opened their division series at home. The Cats blanked Trenton, 8-0, while the Lugnuts fell to Bowling Green 4-3 in 10 innings.
TJ Zeuch gave New Hampshire 6 innings of shutout ball before breaking through for three runs in the bottom half of the frame. Bo Bichette doubled in Jon Berti with what proved to be the game-winning run. Zeuch turned things over to New Hampshire’s shutdown bullpen, who tossed three scoreless innings to preserve the shutout.
New Hampshire added 5 runs in the home half of the 8th. Manager John Schneider, whose team led the Eastern League in steals, was at it again, ordering a double steal. EL batting champ Harold Ramirez led off with a walk. Cavan Biggio, the league leader in walks followed with a free pass of his own. Schneider ordered the successful double, which helped to open the floodgates. Against a drawn in infield, Max Pentecost hit a grounder to 2nd which forced the Trenton 2nd Baseman to his left, and he had only one play at first as Ramirez scampered home. Biggio scored when next batter Josh Palacios recorded his first AA RBI on a single up the middle. New Hampshire scored three more runs that inning.
In Lansing, RHP Maximo Castillo matched Bowling Green P Tobias Myers almost pitch for pitch, his only blemish a leadoff HR in the 2nd. The game had a rain delay in the 4th, but it wasn’t prolonged. Lansing C Andres Sotillo tied the game with a solo opposite Homer in the 5th.
Bowling Green, winner of 90 games in the regular season, took the lead again in the 7th when 1B Jim Haley scored all the way on a Sac Fly to Lansing CF Reggie Pruitt. They added an insurance run in the 8th when Lansing 3B Jesus Navarro stumbled in fielding a Groundball to his left, allowing the runner on 3rd to score. Lansing knotted things up again in the bottom half of the inning. With two runners on, LF Norberto Obeso worked the count full, fouled off a couple of pitches on the outer half of the plate, then lined a triple off the RF wall.
Neither team could score in the 9th, so the game headed to extras – thankfully, without the benefit of the runner on 2nd that the regular season extra innings rule had dictated.
The skies opened up once again, and the wet conditions may have been a factor when Lansing closer Matt Shannon threw the ball down the RF line after taking a one hopper off of his ankle, allowing batter Taylor Wells to reach 2nd. After giving up a walk, Shannon allowed a single that looked to be headed up the middle. Lansing SS Vinny Capra moved over to field the ball, but 2B Samad Taylor cut in front of him, but rushed a weak throw off his back foot to 1st, failing to get the batter, and allowing another run – which proved to be the game winner – to score from 2nd.
Both teams piled onto busses for the 8 hour drive to Bowling Green, where the Lugs face elimination in the best-of-three series tonight. New Hampshire is home for game two of their best-of-five affair, before the series switches to Trenton.